The word "nobleman" in the era of Ancient Russia referred to a person serving at the prince's court. Subsequently, the nobility gradually became more and more influential, and under Peter the Great it finally turned into the main support of the throne.
The nobles, considering themselves a noble class, in every possible way emphasized their difference from the common people, be it in dress, manners, tastes. They argued that even by facial features, one can immediately distinguish a noble person from a simple peasant. Was it really so?
What was meant by the concept of "aristocratic person"
Some people have heard the expressions: "aristocratic appearance", "thoroughbred face." These concepts, for example, are often found in the pages of historical novels. But what do they mean?
The noble aristocrats, as already mentioned, were very proud of their chosenness and in every possible way distanced themselves from the people of the lower classes. Therefore, they entered into marriage only with representatives of their class.
There were only rare exceptions to this rule, for example, one can recall the love story of a noble aristocrat Count Sheremetev and the serf actress Kovaleva-Zhemchugova, his future wife.
And since there were, of course, much less noble people than ignoble people, very many nobles were with each other in some degree of kinship, sometimes very close. In these cases, the likelihood of various genetic diseases in children increases sharply, leading to characteristic changes in appearance: thin facial features, pallor of the skin.
Judging by the surviving portraits of many representatives of hereditary noble families of the 18th-19th centuries, as well as the beginning of the 20th century, they were characterized by such facial features as a thin nose, a sharp chin, thin lips and that notorious pale skin. It was these faces that were considered correct by the nobles.
Did all the nobles have "thoroughbred" faces?
Since the science of genetics emerged only at the end of the 19th century, they simply did not know about such a danger of closely related marriages.
The representatives of the upper class were still living people, and nothing human was alien to them. As a result, many illegitimate children were born in noble families. They inherited family titles, coats of arms, but they received an influx of fresh blood, with all genetic characteristics, including those related to appearance.
In addition, Peter the Great made it possible for many people of low class to become hereditary nobles. To do this, in the military service it was enough to receive the rank of the lowest, XIV class, and in the civilian - VIII. As a result, the noble class soon expanded significantly at the expense of people from the common people. In such cases, it was simply ridiculous to talk about “thoroughbred persons”.